Rory McIlroy isn’t the overnight leader after Thursday’s first round at St. Andrews, but the Northern Irishman is the strong favorite to win the 150th Open Championship.
McIlroy carded a 6-under-par 66 and sits two shots off the pace of PGA Tour rookie Cameron Young, who opened the tournament with a bogey-free 64. Another shot back is reigning Players champion Cam Smith of Australia and Robert Dinwiddie of England.
While the first three played in the more benign conditions enjoyed by the morning wave, Dinwiddie didn’t close out his 5-under 67 until after 10 p.m. local time.
McIlroy opened as one of the pre-tournament favorites at +1400 by BetMGM. The Northern Irishman is now being offered at +333. He leads the sportsbook with 7.9 percent of the winning tickets backing him as well as 12.8 percent of the handle, making him BetMGM’s third-biggest liability entering the second round.
Smith and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler share the second-shortest odds at +800, while Young is +900 after opening the first round as a +10000 longshot.
McIlroy is also the +360 favorite entering the second round at DraftKings, followed by Smith at +700 and Scheffler and Young at +800. No other player has shorter than Xander Schauffele’s +1400 odds.
Young came up one shot shy of tying the lowest first-round score in championship history in his debut at The Open. The 25-year-old has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but the former Wake Forest star has five top-three finishes on the season, including a tie for third at the PGA Championship.
“I think we picked tee shots that were smart, and that kind of kept a lot of the bunkers out of play,” Young said. “And then made a few putts early, which kind of set the tone for the day. All those things just added up to not feeling too hard out there, even though I know it could be impossible for me tomorrow.”
McIlroy entered the week ranked second in the world as he seeks his first major title since 2014. He has top-10 finishes at each of the first three this year.
“I just have to go out and play the same golf that I’ve played today, the same golf that I’ve played over the last few weeks,” McIlroy said. “I’ve been playing well. I’ve been swinging the club well. And I think it’s better if I don’t think about it that much and I just go out and play golf and try to shoot some good scores on one of my favorite golf courses in the world.”
Jordan Spieth is BetMGM’s second biggest liability entering Friday. The Texan will begin the second round seven shots behind Young but has drawn 6.7 percent of the bets and 8.9 percent of the handle, both second-most at the sportsbook.
Tiger Woods remains the biggest liability, although the 15-time major champion quickly played his way out of contention early in his opening round. Woods had a pair of double bogeys on the front nine en route to a 6-over 78 that vaulted his odds at BetMGM from +6600 to +200000.
The sportsbook is offering a number of Woods specials for the second round:
–To make 4 or more birdies/eagles: -125
–To shoot 72 or lower: -110
–To birdie the first hole: +350
–To make an eagle: +1400
–Bogey-free round: +3300
Woods’ odds of winning his fourth Open title have lengthened to +500000 at DraftKings, where he is now +40000 to finish in the top five and +25000 to finish in the top 10.
Just making the cut would be an extraordinary accomplishment.
FanDuel is offering +200 odds on the cut falling at 1-over or worse and -334 odds that it will be at level par or better. Level par through 36 holes would require Woods to shoot a 66 on Friday to make the cut.
Meanwhile, the sportsbook is offering -110 odds on the winning score for the tournament being 17-under or worse and the same odds for 18-under or better.
–Field Level Media